Manager Paul Warne took the blame away from goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell after Rotherham United’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Crewe Alexandra.
The League One Millers were beaten 2-1 as their dismal second-half showing allowed a side from a division below to come back from a goal down to seal the tie.
O’Donnell was at fault for Crewe’s 47th-minute equaliser, coming too late to claim a free-kick and finding himself in no man’s land when Brad Walker headed home.
“Richard has come for it,” said Warne. “I’ve asked him to be brave and confident and come for stuff. He hasn’t covered himself in massive glory, but that’s how I’ve asked him to play so I take responsibility for that.
“What he would expect is for one of his centre-halves or midfielders in front of him to challenge for the ball against their attacker, which didn’t happen.”
Loan keeper Marek Rodak has generally been Warne’s first-choice starter, but the boss consigned him to the bench for the first-round clash.
O’Donnell might have come out more decisively in the build-up to Crewe’s winner in the 89th minute as Callum Ainley got there first and lifted the ball over him before applying the finish while lying on the ground.
Warne has fielded a shadow side in Rotherham’s two Checkatrade Trophy matches this season but, after Saturday’s performance, may include some of his first-team players tomorrow night when the Millers conclude their group-stage games at Bradford City.
“I suppose that’s the advantage of having a game on Tuesday. It will allow us to put to bed this one pretty quickly,” he said.
“I might look at it a little bit differently than I intended to now. Some of the lads might need to play a few demons out.”
Rotherham have only a single Checkatrade point in the board and are unlikely to proceed to the next stage even if they win at Valley Parade
Crewe are managed by former Rotherham centre-half and lifelong Millers fan David Artell who sent out his team early for the second period after watching them be dominated in the first half.
“I’d said my bit. They’d heard what I’d got to say,” he said. “I think the players had shown a degree of fear and apprehension about playing a team from a league above. The ball was like a hot potato.
“But then we matched their workrate, matched their effort and were better on the ball. We made better decisions. Scoring two minutes into the second half helped.”